During Spring 2015, the Coral Forest was on exhibit at San Antonio’s Southwest School of Art. Comprising six giant sculptures, Coral Forest consists of three works in yarn and three in plastic, metaphorically representing the tension between the organic and anthropogenic in our changing ocean environment.
Each sculpture stands between 8 and 10 feet tall; each a sentinel crafted through thousands of hours of human labor and meticulously assembled from hundreds of crochet pieces. As living reefs are made up from thousands of coral heads— each itself the work of thousands of coral polyps cooperating together—so sculptures in the Crochet Coral Reef are complex ecologies fabricated over years of accumulative labor by communities of people. Where the yarn reefs represent the slow beauty of nature, forged through eons, the plastic reefs reference the increasingly dominant powers of humanity, and the synthetic-saturated future we are bringing into being. Crafted from a wide variety of yarns, along with used plastic shopping bags, video tape, Saran wrap, bits of old hula hoop, cast-off toys, and other plastic detritus, these glittering monsters are constructed by Margaret and Christine Wertheim, and incorporate select pieces from the project’s Core Reef Contributors.
Accompanying the Coral Forest was the Branched Anemone Garden, one of the Wertheim’s very first crocheted reefs. This dioramic installation was inspired by the Great Barrier Reef channeled through the ludic sensibility of Dr. Seuss. Also on display was an array of miniature coral Pod World vitrines, each a tiny coralline landscape featuring pieces by more of the Reefs most skilled contributors.